MPA Gohar Nawaz Khan from PK-51 Haripur-III has once again expressed his determination to work towards the creation of the Hazara province – something he believes is owed to “the soil of Hazara”.
Speaking to the media at his hujra in Khalabat Township on Tuesday, the second-time minister said he has drafted a resolution demanding a Hazara province and will shortly table it in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly.
“Carving out a separate Hazara province is the constitutional right of the people and I took an oath to protect the rights of my constituents. They have been neglected during the last six decades.” Gohar said he would submit his resolution “come what may.”
Gohar was first elected as an independent during by-polls on a seat left vacant after the assassination of his elder brother and Awami National Party (ANP) MPA Akhtar Nawaz Khan in November 2008. He later joined the ANP.
The MPA said he had submitted a resolution to declare the Hazara belt a separate province in his first tenure. But despite being in the ANP fold, the resolution was not allowed to be debated in the house. Tabling the resolution was “irksome” for the ANP leadership, but he still forged ahead for the rights of his people without caring for the consequences, claimed Gohar.
In 2013, after winning PK-51 as an independent, Gohar joined the Qaumi Watan Party led by Aftab Ahmad Sherpao. “This time round, I will face opposition again. I will receive less support, even from the lawmakers from Hazara division, but I will still submit the resolution.”
Answering a question, the MPA said Haripur makes a sizeable contribution to the province’s revenue, paying billions in taxes from the Industrial Estate of Hattar, and forest and hydel resources. However, he went on to note, a majority of the local youth were jobless.
“The people of Hazara sacrificed the graves of their ancestors, fertile lands and orchards for the Tarbela Dam, but in return they are at the receiving end of more load-shedding than other districts,” argued Gohar. A separate province is imperative to end the exploitation of the people of Hazara, he added.
In reply to a query, Gohar said he had not yet consulted the QWP leadership, but was confident he would win their support. “I will table a resolution on the Hazara province at every cost,” reiterated the MPA.
Former minister and MPA from Haripur Qazi Asad had tabled a similar resolution during the last government which was also not allowed to be debated.
The demand for a separate province reached its peak when in October 2010 the police opened fire at protesters opposing renaming the North West Frontier Province as K-P. The police killed seven people and injured over 100. After this incident, the movement for a separate province went full swing with rallies and road blocks.
However, there was dissent amongst the main proponents which caused a dent in the movement. Those in mainstream political parties, like Gohar Ayub Khan, Amanullah Khan Jadoon, Qasim Shah, Sardar Muhammad Yusuf stepped aside to keep a low profile. Others like Baba Haider Zaman of Tehreek -e-Sooba Hazara Party and Advocate Qazi Azhar of Hazara Qaumi Mahaz failed to muster the support of the masses on their own. The two parties lost the May 11 elections, burying the movement for a separate Hazara province, leaving behind lone efforts like MPA Gohar Khan’s.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.